Waterfalls of Northeastern Pennsylvania

I just got back from a trip to Pennsylvania.  While I was there, I hiked to a number of waterfalls in northeastern Pennsylvania.  I visited Ricketts Glen State Park and several falls in the Delaware Water Gap.  While the falls are not huge, they are very ornate and pretty.  Many have incredible rock ledges or steps over which the water flows. I came away with a number of interesting compositions on the trip.  

Ricketts Glen State Park

The Ganoga Glen of Ricketts Glen State Park has ten waterfalls that appear one after another in a short 1 mile stretch of creek.  Then as you loop back up Glen Leigh, more waterfalls await.  I think I counted sixteen waterfalls in the span off a 4.5 mile round-trip hike.  This quickly became one of my favorite spots to see waterfalls in the U.S.  The trail descends steeply from a parking area and you reach Mohawk Falls after a short hike.  From there, waterfalls keep coming as you descend rock stair after rock stair. The tallest falls is just under 100 feet–Ganoga Falls.  But even a small ten-foot drop makes for a good photograph in this beautiful park.  I found Delaware Falls particularly photogenic with its tree-strewn cascades.  Mohican Falls is also very photogenic because of a large tree that has fallen along side of it.  The falls also reflects in the calm pool in front of it–a double bonus.  After Tuscarora Falls, the waters of the two creeks converge and you cross a bridge to head up Glen Leigh.  More waterfalls greet you as you climb back up to the parking lot.  The nice feature about Ricketts Glen is that the falls are often shaded by trees so you can get good photographs even on a sunny day as I had for the hike.  

Delaware Water Gap

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation area contains several waterfalls along its many creeks that feed into the Delaware River. I visited three areas: Hornsbeck Creek, Dingman’s Falls, and Raymondskill Falls.  All are located just off Highway 209 in ascending order as you head north.  

Hornsbeck Creek

I think the most interesting waterfall to photograph was along Hornsbeck Creek.  The creek is located about 2 miles north of the Pocono Environmental Education Center off Emery Road.  The trail follows the north side of the creek as it descends below the road.  You come to the falls after about a half mile hike.  A short but steep faint trail leads down to the base of the waterfall.  It was a cool place to see but hard to photograph on a sunny day.  Lots of contrast!  

Dingman’s Falls 

The parking lot and trail to Dingman’s Falls is located just a little farther north on 209.  The trail first stops by the extremely thin but beautiful Silverthread Falls.  It is long and narrow and somewhat hard to photograph but still worth a stop.  The trail then winds around fro another half mile before reaching Dingman’s Falls.  This falls is much bigger.  A moderate wide angle or short telephoto would be ideal to photograph this waterfall as you can’t get right up to it.  

Raymondskill Falls

Raymondskill Falls is the last of the trio of waterfalls along 209.  It is allegedly the tallest falls in Pennsylvania but this is misleading.  It has several different drops and the main falls is not that large in and of itself.  It is still worth a stop and takes only a short hike along a loop trail to see the main falls.  

 

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Southwest Black and Whites

For a while now I’ve been meaning to do a series of black and white photographs of the Southwest.  I’ve made a few trips to the National Parks of Utah recently with this in mind .  This series has photographs from Arches, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands National Parks, and Valley of the Fire State Park.   In particular, I tried to find images that featured trees.  Many of the trees in these parks are old or dead.  Their twisted and gnarled shapes make for some wonderful compositions.  Perhaps my favorite trail was the Navajo Knobs trail in Capitol Reef. This trail has volcanic rock and a plethora of dead junipers that make for perfect black and white compositions. 

Black and White Conversion Process

I like to create contrasty black and white images to highlight these features.  I start with a color digital file.  I use the high contrast red filter in Photoshop to achieve this effect. I start with the presets of the filter and then adjust the individual color levels accordingly.  I often lower the yellow percentage just a little and lower the Cyan and Blue levels even more to darken the sky.  

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Missouri Lakes

I backpacked into Missouri Lakes basin in the Holy Cross Wilderness in Colorado.  I intended to complete the loop with Fancy Pass but too much snow at the top of the pass.  I got hailed on twice but it was worth the effort.  I saw an amazing sunset and the alpenglow on the mountains was stunning this morning.  The basin has three large lakes and a number of small tarns that make for great reflection photography.  I even caught a couple of brook trout out of the middle Missouri Lake.  En route to the lakes, a number of cascades and waterfalls make the hard hike an enjoyable one.  

Trail Description

The trail starts at the Missouri Lakes trailhead after an 11 mile drive on Forest Service roads.  It begins gently as the trail parallels the creek.  After a half a mile it begins to ascend more steeply.  At around one mile, you are treated to a beautiful double waterfall.  Unofruntately, there is no way to get close to the falls as the area is surrounded by dense undergrowth.  Just ahead, a little pond is a good place to stop and grab a snack.  From here, the trail begins ascending steeply and the trail becomes rocky.  Cascade after cascade can be seen along the creek.  At one point, the trail crosses the creek.  Here, a the creek cascades through a granite gorge. The trail levels out monetarily as it crosses a boggy meadow.  The trees start to thin as you approach Missouri Lakes basin.  The first lake soon comes into view around mile 3.  A number of small tarns can be found off trail just before the lake.  A number of good camping sites can be found in this area.  After passing the first lake, the trail makes a hard right turn up the hillside and the second lake can be found about 200 feet higher.  The trail passes the second lake and the third lake comes into view on the left.  For those wanting to take in the view, the trail climbs very steeply up to the pass.  Snow will remain here into August this year it looks like.  

  

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King Lake

The long hike to King Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness is worth the effort.  Near the end, you are rewarded with great views, rushing water, and abundant wildflowers.  Getting there requires a 6.5 mile hike from the Hessie Trailhead near Nederland, CO.  The trail begins steeply as it climbs over a rocky slope before reaching a trail divide after 1.5 miles.  Veer left (the right branch goes toward Jasper Lake). The trail crosses the creek and climbs past a beautiful waterfall.  You reach a trail divide again at mile marker 2.5.  Keep straight.  Then the trail enters the forest and climbs only gradually for the next three miles.  Not many views are found during this portion of the hike. Finally, the trail joins up with the creek again at around mile 5.5.  The next mile is steep as it switch backs up to a meeting with the Betty and Bob Lakes trail.  Just past the junction you have to cross the creek to reach King Lake.  In high water, the creek can be crossed easier to the right and then skirting back to the trail through some large boulders.  Finally, after a long hike, you reach the pretty shores of King Lake.  

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Black Lake

Black Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is a long but rewarding hike in the Glacier Gorge area of the park.  The hike features a couple of beautiful lakes (including its namesake) and several waterfalls, including the elegant Ribbon Falls.  Ribbon Falls is a thin slip of a waterfall that descends a wide section of granite just below Black Lake.  Along the way, hikers are treated to several other cascades along Glacier Creek.  

Trail Description

The hike to Black Lake starts at the Glacier Gorge trailhead.  The trail climbs steadily to Alberta Falls, about a mile up the trail.  The falls thunders over the rocks.  Although it’s only a 25 foot drop, the falls is quite a sight.  This is the end of the road for many a hiker.  But the fun is just beginning.  Another small waterfall can be found just a few switchbacks up the trail.  The falls is tucked into a little hidden alcove.  Continuing up the trail, you reach a trail junction at mile 1.7 and bear right.  The left branch heads to the boulder field atop Long’s Peak.  Here, the trail cuts across a flat section of trail and approaches the canyon where lakes are located.  At mile 2.2, the trail divides again–the left branch heads toward Mills and Black Lakes, the right toward the Loch.  The trail climbs a series of steps and crosses the creek just before reaching Mills Lake.  Mills Lake is a calm respite and provides a good spot to grab a snack near the half-way point of the hike.  Try and spot a trout in its calm, shallow waters.

The trail then goes along the left side of the lake and parallels the creek for the next mile.  This section of trail ascends gradually and makes its way through an area of tree blowdown.   At mile 4, the trail begins to ascend more steeply.  The thunderous sound of Ribbon Falls greets you at mile 4.5.  This is a hard waterfall to photograph given its unique structure.  Going wide here will help.  You can walk off trail and reach the bottom of Ribbon Falls.  The next sight is the outlet of Black Lake.  The mountains in the background frame the falls beautifully.  Amending the steps above the outlet, you finally reach Black Lake.  

 

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